Iran's disappearing Lake Oroumieh

In this Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014 photo, the wreckage of a boat is stuck in the solidified salts and sands at Lake Oroumieh, northwestern Iran. Oroumieh, one of the biggest saltwater lakes on Earth, has shrunk more than 80 percent to 1,000 square kilometers (nearly 400 square miles) in the past decade. Experts fear the lake - famous in years past as a tourist spot and a favorite stopping point for migrating flamingos, pelicans and gulls - could disappear within two years if nothing is done. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

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The first cabinet decision made under Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani, wasn't about how to resolve his country's nuclear dispute with world powers. It was about how to keep the nation's largest lake from disappearing.

Lake Oroumieh, one of the biggest saltwater lakes on Earth, has shrunk more than 80 percent to 1,000 square kilometers (nearly 400 square miles) in the past decade, mainly because of climate change, expanded irrigation for surrounding farms and the damming of rivers that feed the body of water, experts say. Salt-covered rocks that were once deep underwater now sit in the middle of desert.

Experts fear the lake — famous in years past as a tourist spot and a favorite stopping point for migrating flamingos, pelicans and gulls — could disappear within two years if nothing is done. (AP)

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